Current Medicinal Chemistry

Atta-ur-Rahman, FRS
Honorary Life Fellow
Kings College
University of Cambridge


Essentiality, Toxicology and Chelation Therapy of Zinc and Copper

Author(s): Lu Cai, Xiao-Kun Li, Ye Song and M. G Cherian

Affiliation: Department of Medicine, the University of Louisville, 511 South Floyd Street, MDR 533, Louisville, KY, 40202, USA.


Both zinc and copper are essential minerals that are required for various cellular functions. Although these metals are essential, they can be toxic at excess amounts, especially in certain genetic disorders. Zinc and copper homeostasis results from a coordinated regulation by different proteins involved in uptake, excretion and intracellular storage/trafficking of these metals. Apart from zinc transporters (ZnT) families and Cu-ATPase, metallothionein is an important storage protein for zinc and copper. Metallothioneins are intracellular polypeptides with a remarkable ability to bind metallic ions. These proteins bind both essential metals indispensable for the organism and also toxic metals (e.g. cadmium or lead). Metallothioneins play a critical role to maintain zinc and copper homeostasis. In this review, we summarize the toxicity of zinc and copper and the potential treatment for zinc or copper toxicity by zinc- or copper-specific chelators as well as strategy to upregulate metallothionein.

Keywords: zinc, copper, metallothionein, zinc chelator, copper chelator, oxidative damage

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Article Details

Page: [2753 - 2763]
Pages: 11
DOI: 10.2174/092986705774462950
Price: $58